Customer service today sucks. It really does. And it’s so frustrating. I am the nicest customer you would ever want to meet. Seriously. I’ve worked in service industries my whole life, since I was 12 and I waited tables in my parents’ restaurant. I was a corporate trainer for a long time and a district and operations manager for a retail company, too, so not only have I worked the front lines, I’ve trained the front lines. And I took that job seriously. I believe in service - in good service. I believe in rewarding it... I tip big, I compliment people when they do a good job, and I let managers know when I’m treated well. I truly believe everyone should work at least one year in a restaurant or retail job in order to fully understand just how hard those jobs are. I know I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to work my butt off for next to no money, waiting on rude cretins who think people in service positions are sub-human. It’s why I’m the nicest customer in the world.
But every now and then I meet a customer service ‘professional’ who actually is sub-human. And when that happens, I don’t handle it well. I don’t handle it well at all.
I was seriously craving a Diet Coke today. Though I gave it up a couple of months ago, I sort of fell off the wagon when I was in London. I haven’t had many since I got back but today wasn’t a great day and I just needed one, you know? So I drove through a burger place on my way to pick Ryan up from school and I ordered a medium Diet Coke… as usual. It took forever to get it, which aggravated me, as it was all I ordered. Normally I taste my drink before I drive away so I can get them to fix it if they made a mistake. I didn’t this time, so when I realized I had a regular Coke, I pulled into a parking space and went in. The girl who waited on me was talking on her phone (which is probably why it took so long to get my drink in the first place)… Strike ONE. She saw me and actually turned around to finish her call… Strike TWO. I excused myself (yeah, like that should have been necessary) and she turned back around, rolled her eyes, and told the person on the other end of the phone to hold on… oh yeah, Strike THREE.
Me: Hi (still actually trying to be my normally pleasant self). I ordered a Diet Coke and I got regular.
Her: (Looking put out) No, you ordered regular.
Me: Ummm… no, I ordered diet.
Now, at this point she should have just said, “Sorry. I’ll get you a Diet Coke now.” But she didn’t. Oh no, she didn't.
Her: (In a snotty ‘you must not have heard me’ tone) Ummm (yes, she mimicked me)… no, you ordered regular (emphasis on the ‘regular’).
Oh yes, she did. You know how you can feel ‘it’ rising? Yeah, ‘it’ rose.
Me: OK (deep breath here… ramping up). Look… Sweetheart (and you know how you can say ‘sweetheart’ in a very not nice way? Yeah, that’s how I said it). I am 43 years old. I have been drinking diet soda since I was 13. In 30 years, I have never ordered a regular soda. EVER. I hate regular soda. I cannot drink it. I haven’t had one since they invented TAB, which was long before you were born. I did not order a regular Coke today. I ordered a Diet Coke. I know this because I have ordered a diet soda EVERY DAMNED TIME I have ordered a soda for the last 30 years. You, Sweetheart (yes, the not-nice way again) made a mistake. I don’t know whether you didn’t hear me, or you pushed the wrong button on the register, or you’re just stupid. And you know what? I don’t care. I know what I ordered. I ordered a Diet Coke. And I want my Diet Coke now. And we both know that you’re going to get me my Diet Coke whether you believe you made a mistake or not. Because that, Sweetheart (yup, not nice) is the way it works.
Then, without another word, shooting me a look that said she SO wanted to swear at me (or punch me in the face), she grabbed my cup, dumped the regular soda out (spilling a lot of it on the floor), and filled it with Diet Coke. And I watched closely, just to be sure she didn’t spit in it. On my way out I got out my cell phone and dialed the owner of the store, whose number was posted on a sign that said, “Excellent customer service is our goal! Let us know how we’re doing!” Naturally, no one answered. Yeah, customer service today sucks.